One Year of WFH – Still?!

Can y’all believe it’s been a whole year of working from home???

It is absolutely wild to me that exactly one year ago, I was packing up my office for what we all thought would be a three-week “trial period” for COVID-19 to blow over. A year later, here we are – very much still working from home. It looks like working from home will be continuing for the next little while, until everyone is vaccinated. Working from home for this long was definitely not expected, and I truly don’t think any of us thought we would be at this for an entire year. Though it does feel like finally the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to seep through, I want to think back to what many of us have collectively been through this past year.

It can be hard to know how to react to the timeline of this all. So much has happened in the past year for all of us as a collective process, that it can be hard to really dive into it and break each part down.

When work from home first happened, it was a major adjustment. I remember truly believing that our three-week “trial period” was all it would be, and before we knew it, we would be back in the office. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I had so much anxiety during late spring and early summer of last year, always thinking that maybe just another few days or another couple of weeks or another month, and we’d be back… but alas, it continued, and it became clear it was going to continue for quite awhile. Since it’s now a year later, that “quite awhile” definitely has been longer than expected. At some point, I had to accept that working from home was the new normal, and fully transition myself and my work to a remote environment. It definitely wasn’t an easy process to do so and required a lot of work to get to the point where working remotely did begin to feel normal. I remember when I last wrote about how we had been working from home for 6 months, I speculated how much longer our work from home situation would continue. Another 6 months later, and here we are. It has felt like an uphill battle a lot of the time, and sometimes, it still feels that way for me.

Part of me feels that after all this time, I have now finally adjusted to working from home, so much so that it would be weird to go back to the office or working in person. Operating remotely has come to feel like second nature. There was so much we had to adjust to, and we weathered it extremely well, to the point where it felt like normal – the new normal. Now, it seems we are heading into a period of uncertainty again with how everything will play out over the coming months. This includes the vaccine rollout here in BC, and planning for an eventual return to work – though who knows what that will fully look like.

Another part of me feels exhausted that it has been an entire year of dealing with this. Even though we may have adjusted, pivoted as we needed to, and made sacrifices to keep each other safe – it’s exhausting to realize it has been a whole year of doing so. Regardless of what point you are at with the pandemic, if you are still feeling really anxious or if you feel relatively well-adjusted, it is still an additional layer added on to everything we are experiencing – and that layer is heavy and carries a lot of substance.

Perhaps it is both. Perhaps we can feel adjusted to the new normal, but still exhausted and drained from everything we’ve been through this year, and everything that still is to come. It is a lot and I think it is an important reminder that even though we are nearing the end, we are still in the middle of a pandemic and should not be expecting ourselves or those around us to be operating as we normally would. If you are struggling, that is completely okay! I think we all are in our own ways. It has been an unprecedented amount of change in such a short time. There are bound to be things that stay with us and continue to impact us, even as we move into these next phases of the pandemic.

I don’t know what the rest of the year is going to look like. I am optimistic that things are moving forward: we are on track with our vaccination plan here in BC and hopefully the majority of us will be vaccinated by the fall. But after that, then what happens? Does it mean a return to working in offices, and the old normal of how our lives used to be? Because I don’t think it does. I think we are at a big turning point where we have the potential to re-imagine our future, and re-invent what a post-pandemic world could look like. For me, that is equal parts exciting and terrifying. To be honest, it’s mostly terrifying. But I do believe it is important to carry the lessons we have learned forward with us. Perhaps the future can be more equitable, caring, and healthy for everyone.

Ultimately, the biggest thing I envision post-pandemic, or the biggest thing I am hoping for, is to be able to see and hug and spend time with all of my friends again. I think this may have been one of the biggest things I took for granted previously, but having the chance to just be with friends and hug them is something I won’t be taking for granted in the future. It is the first thing on my list to do and truly enjoy once the world begins to open up again.

What has the past year of the pandemic, and working from home if you’re in a similar boat to me, taught you? Let me know in the comments! Sending love to all of you as we continue to weather this storm together. <3

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